Italian Genealogy: Tracing Your
Italian Family Tree

Five years ago Italian genealogy was the last thing on my mind. I had some vague idea that I would look into my family trees when I was older, maybe in my seventies or eighties... a long way in the future. But life had other plans.

One day, after a visit from my niece and nephew (both preschoolers), I had the idea of putting together a small family web site. It would be a place where they could learn a little about their ancestors, if, or when, a time came when they wanted to know. After obtaining permission from my immediate family to display their photos, I set about gathering photos and information on my grandparents and great-grandparents.

Unfortunately I couldn't find much, but it was a start. The site was online for just a few months when I received my first email from a man with the same last name. Are we related? he asked. I didn't have an answer.

This was the catalyst that motivated me to start researching my family history. Fast forward five years - I now have family trees going back nine generations to the mid 1700s. I've made contact with people all over the world. I have standing invitations to visit long-lost cousins in a number of countries; some are relatives and some are not... or might be if we can find a connection. It's been a fabulous and enriching journey and the best part is it's ongoing.

If you're thinking about researching your own family tree, keep this in mind: there's no perfect time to start so it might as well be now. You have no idea where the journey will take you, and you may meet some wonderful people along the way. Thanks to the Internet and budget travel, it's no longer difficult to connect with people in distance places. And researching your family tree can be a great way of opening up your world.

[I also took a brief look at DNA testing, but after reading  The Genetic Strand: Exploring a Family History Through DNA by Edward Ball, I decided that the results were too unreliable at present to justify the expense. I've listed some DNA testing web sites in case you want to look into it further. But please read Ball's book before spending any money.]

If you're ready to start your Italian genealogy quest, here are a few resources that may help:

Family Tree Software

I started off using spreadsheets but soon transferred my data to an excellent program called Legacy. There is a similar program called Family Tree Maker, which has a good reputation as well.

Research Sites

Italian Names

1. Araldis Europe [Italy] - Surname Database [Fee]

2. Italian-English First Name Translator

3. Italian Names - General Resource

4. Italian Surname Collection

5. 1600 Nomi Italiana - Directory of Italian Names


Italian Resources

US Records

Australian Records

DNA Testing

Genealogy Groups

If you feel you need some instruction on how to get started, our affiliate partners at Amazon have a number of great books on the subject. Just click on Italian Genealogy Guides.